Cabbage Cultivation Guide

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About the Crop

###Crop Name
###Common Name
###Scientific Name
Brassica oleracea
###Name in Indian languages
Patta Gobhi & Paat Gobhi (Hindi), Muttai kosu (Tamil), Kosu gadda (Telugu), Ele kosu (Kannada), Kobi (Marathi), Band gobi (Punjabi)
###Origin, Distribution and Uses
Cabbage is said to have originated in Europe especially Britain. The varieties of cabbage were introduced in Germany, France. German gardeners developed the savoy cabbage during the 16th century. Cabbage was a staple food in countries as Germany, England, Ireland and Russia during the 17th and 18th centuries. Pickled cabbage is found commonly in many western countries.
Area, Production and Productivity

Cabbage is a common vegetable grown all over India and many parts of the world. As cabbage is very convenient to grow, it is grown on large and small-scale. Cabbage is grown all over India but it is popularly grown in Southern States and in northern India. Cabbage is available in India through out the year due to its high productivity and many varieties.
##Cultivation Requirements
Cabbage can be grown in variety of climatic conditions but cool moist climate is most suitable for its growth as it dries off soon in dry warm weather. The temperature for cabbage seed germination is 12 to 16 degrees centigrade.
###Climate and Seasons
Cabbage is grown in all the seasons and mostly all over India. Cabbage grows well in winter as cold climate suits well for the growth.
Cabbage can be grown in a variety of soils like sandy and well drained heavy soils but the preferred soil variety is sandy loam soils. The preferred soil pH for cabbage is between 6.0 to 6.5. Cabbage is moderately tolerant to salty soils.
###F1 Hybrids

  • Hari Rani
  • Shri Ganesh Gol Kamdhenu
  • Sujata
  • Bajrang
  • Swati
  • Ganga
  • Yamuna
  • Kaveri
  • Green Express and Green Boy

###Improved Varieties

  • Sel-8
  • BSS-50
  • BSS-32
  • BSS-44
  • BSS-115
  • Sri Ganesh Gol
  • Golder Acre
  • Pusa Mukta
  • Pusa Drum Head

Crop Management

###Field Preparation
The land for cabbage cultivation should be given 2-3 ploughings and the compost should be spread 15-20 days before sowing. By giving a break of 10 days and then ploughing the soil will make the excess moisture to evaporate and improves the clod condition of the soil. Care should be taken that proper irrigation channel are made in the field as the cabbage grows well in moist conditions and should be seen that the soil is moist.
Seeds are used for propagation or cultivation of cabbage.
###Sowing, Nursery and Transplanting
Seeds need to be first sown in well-prepared nursery beds which may be 60 cm-100 cm in width with suitable and preferred length. Good quality seeds which are well-formed must be used for sowing and diseased or broken seeds should not be used.
###Seed Rate
300-500 gm of cabbage seeds are required for 1 hectare area. Preparing the field properly and taking care of the drainage problems is very necessary for getting good results. As moist soil conditions are very much suitable for the cabbage crop it is good if the crop is grown in such conditions. The early stages and the germination stages of the crop needs proper care. Nurseries or green houses can be used to cultivate the cabbage in adverse weather conditions to help in germination of seeds and the early growth of the plants. Direct seeding of cabbage seeds into the main field may not a good idea and needs to be avoided for the following reasons:

It is always better to first raise the seedlings to a certain period, make them hard and then transplant them to the field as the temperature and soil conditions may not be optimum for the germination of the seeds.

###Seed Treatment
There are numerous ways to treat the cabbage seeds before sowing them. It is important to properly treat the cabbage seeds so that the mortality rate and productivity is high.

The cabbage seeds after treated with hot water at 50°C for 30 minutes, should be followed by a treatment with 25g of Azospirillum for 250g of seeds.
Cabbage Seeds can also be treated with Bavistin or Thiram in ratio of 2g/kg of seed.
Seeds of cabbage are pelletized and the pelleted coatings on seeds helps in better germination. The cabbage seeds are covered by powder mixture making them easier to handle during sowing.
3-6 weeks after sowing the seeds, seedlings are formed and will be ready to be transplanted in to the field. The transplantation depends on type of crop, the seedlings which are 5-6 weeks old are better and 3-4 week old seedlings give better productivity in case of mid season crop. The seedlings well grown should get enough daylight but not much heat. Proper watering of the seedlings is necessary before transplanting them to field.
The germinated seedlings to adjust to the outside environment, the seedlings should get used to outside temperature and conditions through hardening process where it can be kept in mini green houses with optimal conditions. The seedlings can be transplanted to the already prepared field at appropriate time. Seedlings can be transplanted by making proper holes and planting them firmly which needs to be watered properly. Planting the seedling in a cold day or in evening is better to prevent wilting.
The seedlings when being transplanted to the field should have optimal spacing so that each one gets proper nutrients. The spacing depends on the type of cultivar. The seedlings should be placed in single rows with a distance of 45 × 45 cm for early crop, for late crop the spacing of 60 × 60 cm is good. In any case, seedlings should be 35 to 50 cm apart in rows which are 60 to 90 cm apart.
###Water Management
The Management of water or proper irrigation is very important for efficient and proper growth of cabbage. The water requirement varies according to the stage and type of seedling. It is essential to water the crop every 4 to 7 days if it is an early stage and in later stages it needs to be watered every 10 to 15 days. The cabbage plant requires moisture, so the moisture should be well maintained in the field. Drip Irrigation or sprinkler can be one of the most effective ways to keep the cabbage plant well moistened and well hydrated as well as protect it from too much heat.
###Nutrient Management
To ensure proper growth of cabbage, nutrient requirement is always to be considered top priority. The fertility level needs of the soil should be determined and accordingly nitrogen, phosphorous and potash needs provided for its growth.

During land preparation, well decomposed farm yard manure or compost at 150-200 quintals per hectare should be thoroughly mixed in the soil.
An average amount of 40-60kg nitrogen, 40-60kg phosphorous and 60-80kg potassium per hectare can be used for proper cabbage production. Nitrogen is used with soil before planting, followed by seconds application of nitrogen in 7 to 10 days of planting. A third application of nitrogen can be done if the soil is very moist. Nitrogen helps in producing dark green leaves.
Phosphorous is very essential requirement for cabbage growth as it helps in root development and its deficiency might lead to slow growth and delayed maturity. For soils of less than 50 ppm, an application of 45 to 90 kg/ha of P2O5 would yield better results. For soils of lower phosphorous, P2O5 at 168 to 336 kg/ha can be applied.
Magnesium should be applied so that it does not face interveinal chlorosis. Various sources of magnesium like sulphate of potash magnesia, Epsom and Dolomite lime can be applied in the cabbage field.
The Cabbage plant also needs certain micronutrients for its proper growth. The deficiency of Boron may cause stem discoloration, leaf rolling, deformed buds, cabbage browning etc. An application of Sodium borate can reduce the boron deficiency. Manganese chelated and sulphates can be applied for maintaining manganese level as its deficiency may cause leaf yellowing. Molybdenum deficiency may cause whiptail which is deformed formation with no head and thus sodium molybdate can be supplied for addressing the deficiency.
###Weed Management
Weed management is very important as weeds compete with the plant for nutrients and delay the growth and maturation of cabbage. Weeds can increase the insect and nematode growth and reduce the efficiency of any pesticide application. Weeds can be controlled by both cultural and chemical practices. Practices like crop rotation, hoeing and stale seedbed reduces the weeds and make the land efficient for cabbage cultivation. The technique of stale seedbed, planting bed is prepared early by watering and allowing the weeds to germinate post which they are controlled via herbicide (Glyphosate) or by flame weeder. Hoeing is a very good technique which can be used to control weeds that grow in close proximity to the plant. Examples of summer weeds are pigweed, purslane, lambsquarters and ground cherry which grow August - October.
###Pests and Management

  • Aphids
    Two varieties of aphids (plant lice) attack cabbage crop. The cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) and the turnip aphid (Lipaphis erysimi) attack cabbage crop at different stages. Cabbage Plants in all stages of growth are covered with dense clusters of whitish-green plant lice. These aphids are about the size of a pinhead. They extract the plant sap. The leaves affected with aphids curl and crinkle or form cups, completely lined with these aphids. If the plantation is severely infested, the plants wilt and die. These infested plants if not killed, will become dwarfed, grow slowly and form small light heads. These heavily infested plants become covered with these aphids rapidly decay.
    Two or three insecticide treatments given at five-day intervals should be given to clean up plants. If only 2 percent of the plants are affected with aphids, an insecticide application if made is good and this should be made with high spray volume and necessary pressure. As the aphids tend to produce the waxy powder that covers the bodies of the aphids, as leaves form pockets or cups which protect help in protecting aphids, it is very important to add spreader-stickers to the insecticide spray mix. Its good to destroy old stalks of cabbage as soon as the crop is harvested to prevent aphids.

  • Cabbage Looper
    Another pest that affects cabbage crop is the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni). This destroys and it is very difficult to control this pest. The moths have a 8-shaped figure and silver spot near the middle of each of the front wings.The moths are very active at night and fly high while they are laying eggs.The moths lay their eggs on the lower surfaces of the outer leaves of the plants. The eggs on the leaves are smaller than a pinhead and will be round is shape.
    The best way to prevent the infestation is to handpick the caterpillars. Bacillus thuringiensis also works very well. It is difficult to kill the larvae or caterpillars immediately, but they die gradually as they stop feeding shortly after ingesting B.t. spores.

  • Cabbage Webworm
    The cabbage webworm is another pest that affects cabbage plantation. When they are disturbed in the field, these moths make short, erratic flights and settle quickly among the leaves of a plant or on the ground, where the colour of the moths blend with the leaves. These Moths lay grayish-white eggs near the buds of the plants. As the plants mature, moths lay their eggs on the underside of leaves in the angle along the leaf stems.These Cabbage webworms tunnel into and kill the buds of young plants.
    The control measure is to complete destruction of the original bud which causes the production of secondary buds that cannot mature by harvest-time. severe injury can destroy the head produced from the original bud. The pests when they Feed on the outer leaves of older plants does less harm. Treatments which are applied for other pests usually help in controlling the webworm.

  • Cross-Striped Cabbageworm
    The cabbageworms are pests with a wingspread of about 1 inch. These cabbageworms prefer the tender terminal buds and the heads of cabbage crop plants and make holes in them. They lay eggs are in clusters and large numbers of the larvae hatch on individual plants.
    Its better to handpick the caterpillars. The treatments made for other larvae generally help in preventing these pests.

  • Diamondback Moth Caterpillars
    These Diamondback moths are about 1/3 inch (8.5 mm) long, and have a wingspread of less than 1 inch (2.54 cm). These moths move rapidly when they are disturbed. These moths lay eggs singly or in groups of two or three on the leaves.
    To control infestations at an early stage it is good to use Bacillus thuringiensis. For larger plantings, after cupping (early head formation), application of insecticides is best when there is an average of one larva or one new hole per 10 plants.

  • Imported Cabbageworm
    The imported cabbageworm is the larva of a yellowish-white butterfly. After they grow and become butterflies, they fly around cabbage plants during the day.These butterflies lay eggs on either side of the leaves. These cabbageworms feed near the center of plants and are harmful to the cabbage head. They do harm to the plantation by making holes to the leaves.
    Bacillus thuringiensis controls cabbageworms effectively. Tiny parasitic wasps and insects are common natural controls for the cabbageworms. For larger cultivation, after cupping (early head formation), insecticides should be applied when there is an average of one larva or one new hole per 10 plants.

  • Cabbage Maggot
    The cabbage plants attacked by the cabbage maggot appear very sick, off-color and the growth stunted. If the plants are heavily infested, these plants wilt suddenly during the mid day and die. The infected cabbage roots show brownish colour over the surface and slimy winding channels running through the flesh. Large percentage of the roots are eaten off. These pests can be found in the burrowed-out channels within the roots. Cabbage plants when they are transplanted are highly infected with these pests.
    These pests can be controlled by practice that will reduce the decaying organic matter content of soil. This will reduce the chances of infestation becoming more prevalent. The infestation increases if any plant material is left in the garden which can attract flies. Post emergence herbicides can also become a reason for cabbage maggot problems. Weedy fields which are treated with post emergence herbicide can become infested with maggots as dead weeds decompose and can be a source of problem. Inspection of these fields can prevent these cabbage maggots.

  • Harlequin Bug
    The harlequin bug is a bug with red and black spotted markings on its back. This bug stinks. The harlequin bug can cause serious damage to cabbage plantation. The bug sucks sap from the collard/cabbage plant, causing it to wilt, turn brown and gradually die. Younger plants are the ones more attacked by these pests. Larger plants can withstand higher populations but show reduced growth and yellowing.

###Diseases and Management

  • Downey Mildew
    This disease is caused by Peronospora parasitica fungus and infected plant shows white fuzzy patches on head, leaves and stems and also causes browning of the head and leaf. This fungus is able to survive for 2 years approximately. Crop rotation can be used to control this disease.

  • Black Leg
    This disease is caused by fungus Phoma lingam. The Symptoms are spots on the stem along with purple border. The plants may ultimately die from wilting. It can be controlled by hot water treatment of the seeds as well as 4 year crop rotation is highly effective in crop rotation.

  • Grey and Black Leaf Spot
    This disease is seed and soil borne and is identified by small spots on the leaf. This disease forms a hole like appearance. This disease is favoured by cold temperature, high humidity and rain and decays the cabbage. Grey Leaf Spot and Black Leaf spot is caused by Alternaria brassicae and Alternaria brassicola respectively. It can be controlled by by treating the seeds with hot water. It can also be avoided through long rotations and can also be incorporated by debris incorporation.

  • Black Rot
    This disease is caused by Xanthomonas campestris, which is favoured by rain. It causes yellowing of the tissue. It can be controlled by treating the seeds with hot as well as crop rotation.

  • Damping Off
    This disease is caused by Rhizoctonia Solani and is a soil borne fungus disease which attacks the seedlings. It generally does not affect plants that are three to four leaf stage . In order to control spreading of this disease, the field needs to be ploughed properly before planting cabbage. It is important to avoid over watering of the field. It is important to take care that the plants are not stressed.

Organic Cultivation

Organically cultivation of cabbage in gardens is tough because it requires many optimal conditions for its growth.
Harvesting and Yield

Cabbages are harvested when the heads are fully developed. The heads must be in good shape, globular, firm. In order to protect the head, it is advisable to harvest it with its full foliage. The maximum size of the head may be up to 30 cm depending on the variety. Physical damage should be minimized during handling to avoid spoiling of cabbage. It is generally harvested with manual precision using a knife. It gives us a yield of almost 200 – 250 quintal/ha for early cabbage and for late season crop, yield is approximately 250 – 300 quintal/ha.


Cabbages are available all over the year but winter is the best time for their availability. In the pack shed, the leaves are trimmed and uniform sized heads are packed in cardboards. Either they should be sent to market directly or should be kept in storage at 2°C. Proper handling is essential as the heads are sensitive and mishandling will lead to loss of the vegetable.

Post Harvest Technology

These are the various steps for post harvest handling and marketing of good cabbage.
Generally harvesting is done manually beginning in December with heads of approximate size of 15cm. Sorting and grading are the methods used in packing cabbages. Sorting is done and the extra foliage, wrapping the head and after that it is packaged. Cabbage is packed in perforated plastic, carton is cooled by hydrovac and carton is cooled by hydrocooling if head is wrapped by plastic. After that the cabbages are packed in cardboard box, are shipped to packing house where they are checked for any defects, trimmed and mildly treated with chlorinated water before final packaging. Care should be taken that there are holes in the plastic for ventilation. For storing cabbage requires low temperature of 2o C and relative humidity of 95% for storage. Temperature for storage varies with number of days the cabbage needs to be stored. Storing under proper conditions prevents decay, spotting and aging or browning of heads. When the cabbage is to be held outside temporarily of cold storage, it can be packed in crushed ice to keep it fresh.

To remove the field heat, both hydrocooling and vacuum cooling methods are very effective. Care should be taken that cabbage is not stored by placing the on direct ice as they may spoil the cabbage. Cabbage can also be harvested when they are not fully mature as they can be used for various cuisines.

Reserved for additional information